Sparks is a beautifully poignant show telling the story of a woman searching for love amidst grief. Performed by Jessica Butcher and Anoushka Lucas, they tell her story through both music and monologue.
After seeing Flipping the Bird Theatre’s 2016 Edinburgh Fringe production of Torch, a show that I still think about today, it was a female performance that truly resonated with me. The one-woman show consisted of a girl sat in a nightclub toilet cubicle, who shared her deepest emotions and regrets in a hard-hitting piece of theatre. It was a show that completely consumed me. Their latest production, Sparks, playing at the Pleasance Courtyard at Edinburgh Fringe consumed me all over again.
We are introduced to the charismatic young Londoner who is fumbling around and trying to find love in the chaos of the city. As Jessica Butcher tells the story through narration, a mixture of witty conversation and poetic language, Anoushka Lucas adds to the story through original songs. Lucas’ voice is sublime and charged with emotion. Her music is simply gorgeous and captures every inch of the emotions Butcher talks of throughout the show.
Butcher is a superbly natural storyteller. In the tiny room tucked away in the Pleasance, she sits on the floor in her tracksuit bottoms and hair scraped back. Her genuine warmth captures the audience’s attention and empathy instantly. I sat there as if I knew Jessica, and I related to her, feeling her pain and laughter along the way.
She talks about the endless cycle of dating in London, falling in love and getting her heart broken, all in a funny 21st century millennial kind of way. Laughing about overpriced tapas, takeaway coffee and all the classic ‘first world problems.’ However, amongst her sarcasm, you can sense some real vulnerability. It’s clever writing, and faultless direction from Jessica Edwards.
It isn’t until she unravels her layers, giving us glimpses into the tragic weight on her shoulders. She talks of her mother, suffering with Multiple Sclerosis and how she watches her slowly deteriorate into someone she doesn’t recognise at all.
Grief is a universal feeling, something that affects us all at some point in our life, but so taboo to talk about. Sparks emphasises this, showing how we just all battle on and continue to laugh about Deliveroo and disposable men, burying our grief in fake smiles and forced laughter. When Butcher tells the story of the moment her mother dies, you could literally hear a pin drop as the audience are so entranced in her character and her story.
It’s a heartbreaking story of love and loss told in the most authentic and resonating way. Truly touching, Sparks is a phenomenal piece of storytelling that will encapsulate every emotion and linger in your mind for days, weeks, months afterwards. It’s simply fringe theatre at it’s best – raw, real and utterly striking.
On at Edinburgh Fringe, tickets and information can be found here.
On at HighTide festival in London on the 28 & 29 of September, tickets and information can be found here.